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With Oleksandr Zinchenko suffering from niggling injury issues at the start of the 2021/22 season, after he was a mainstay in Ukraine's Euro 2020 side, Joao Cancelo was called upon to deputise at left-back - and he did so in stellar fashion.
In recognition, the Portuguese international was named as one of the nominees in contention to win the Premier League Player of The Season Award, which was eventually lifted by Manchester City teammate, Kevin De Bruyne.
Additionally, the 27-year-old’s cracking displays in an unfamiliar position were also given the credit they deserve, as he was selected as the left-back in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
Despite Cancelo putting in elite performances on the left side of defence, Pep Guardiola’s opinion on the versatile defender occupying the role has been revealed, which is bound to surprise many.
As per a report by GOAL, the Manchester City boss is understood to believe that Joao Cancelo is not a ‘natural fit’ at left-back.
A right-back by trade, the former Juventus man’s services were initially acquired in order to provide stiff competition to Kyle Walker in 2019.
Adding to that, the Benfica academy graduate first proved his worth in his natural position during the 2020/21 season, where he was largely recognised as the best player in his position in Europe.
With the Sky Blues linked with a wide array of left-back reinforcements, the intention may firstly be to utilise Cancelo as a right-back once again.
In addition, the speculation surrounding left-backs such as Brighton & Hove Albion’s Marc Cucurella and Wolves’ Rayan Aït-Nouri is a sign that Manchester City are searching for a specialist to occupy the role next season.
While it can be said for certain that Pep Guardiola is a fan of Joao Cancelo at left-back, Erling Haaland’s newfound threat in the box could mean the Catalan boss is eyeing a more natural fit that could offer an unseen directness to his system next season.